MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa — From wreckage to remembrance. “I’ve been a police officer for almost thirty years and this is the worst crash scene I’ve ever seen,” said Marshalltown Police Chief Michael Tupper.
The impact of Friday’s deadly crash in Marshalltown’s 1800 block of South Sixth Street has been heartbreaking for family, students, teachers, and first responders like Chief Tupper. “It was difficult for the responders to have to investigate. We are helping the first responders work through the grieving process,” Tupper said.
A two-minute moment of silence at Monday’s Marshalltown Community Schools District school board meeting paid tribute to 17-year-old Yanitza Lopez, her 15-year-old sister Linette, 16-year-old Isacc Lara, and his 13-year-old brother Adrien. Board President Sean Heitmann said, “I can’t imagine the sadness and the outrage the families and loved ones are probably experiencing and will be experiencing for quite some time.”
The Lopez family tells 13 News Yanitza was aspiring to be a nurse due to her work at the Willows of Marshalltown assisted living. While she cared for residents ages 65 and older the combined age of all four victims in the vehicle just an hour after she finished her shift at Willows Friday night was just 61. Chief Tupper says the young ages of the victims have been difficult to deal with. “They were great kids and well-liked by everybody that knew them,” Tupper said.
As questions continue to swirl within the community investigators continue to search for answers themselves. Tupper said, “Our work continues. We are far from done and our commitment to the community is we are going to conduct a complete investigation.”
The Lopez’s say the sisters did everything together including cheerleading for Marshalltown High School. They say Yanitza and Isacc were dating and the recently crowned Homecoming Queen hoped for a bright future together. “This has had a devastating impact on our community,” said Tupper.
Lives that lit up the worlds of their families and now lighting a path to a touching memorial. “When something like this happens and we’ve had more than our fair share of tragedies, the community comes together and they are gonna support these families,” said Tupper.